Posted to Volacci's blog on November 9th, 2010

Why Conversion Testing is Needed

conversion testing

There is a common misconception that marketers ALWAYS know the exact answer for how to make your website or business successful. A good marketing team can implement or recommend strategies to improve your marketing campaign based on solid experience and research. However, there is no silver bullet, no clear answer for what works and what doesn’t work, and if anyone tells you otherwise, I suggest you proceed with caution.

Website conversion optimization is very much the same as any other form of customer-facing interaction. It’s doubtful that you or your marketing company knows exactly what your visitors want. What you perceive your visitors wanting may be completely different than what they really do want when visiting your website. This assumption can cost business owners both time and money as they build faulty websites without any true customer insight.

This problem can have two solutions:

Talk to your customers. Contact your potential visitors and ask them “what’s important to you?” By doing so, you get a better understanding of the mindset of your visitors, enabling you to design a better website tailored to your visitors. Traditional methods of attaining customer insights is by holding focus groups, one-on-one interviews, or posting surveys on your websites asking clients what they want.

The second option is to simply test your website’s design. Using free tools such as Google’s Website Optimizer, developers have no reason why they can’t be testing different versions of their website to see which design elements are better at converting your visitors. After testing certain elements of your website (ex. the placement of your logo, or the size of your phone number), you can begin making education assumption as to what works and what doesn’t work.

Start off by finding a small but crucial element of your site that you believe can change the way people interact with your business. Using Google Website Optimizer, you can switch between two different versions of a webpage, and compare conversion rates between the two versions. Depending on the amount of traffic you receive (50% of traffic will go to one version, the rest to the other version), Google Website Optimizer will select a ‘winner’. As soon as that test has been complete, you can move onto another element of the website.

As you progress, you will slowly optimize your website so that your design is solid and reflecting what your visitors want to see.

Remember, there is no silver bullet when it comes to conversion analysis. According to Eisenberg’s great book on website optimizer testing, "Always Be Testing", it took Amazon years before they reached a successful conversion rate with their “Add to Cart” button (and they continue to test today!). Conversion analysis testing is free and mostly pain-free. By doing it properly and consistently, you’ll gain a much a better website, and a much better return on investment.